Back to School at Crystal Cove State Park


It might not quite feel like autumn yet, but Crystal Cove Conservancy’s K-12 STEM education programs have already returned to the field at Crystal Cove State Park!  Last school year, over 4,500 students took part in our citizen science programs on land and at sea.  These future marine biologists, ecologists, and environmental scientists helped us collect data on fish populations, plant water use, and changing abiotic conditions, which will help our State Park natural resource managers decide how best to protect the wild places that we love.

A new school year brings more opportunities for students to become engaged in conservation and learn about becoming future environmental stewards. Last year, over 3,000 of the students who participated in these education programs came from underserved areas with under-resourced schools. For many, their visit to Crystal Cove was their first opportunity to go out on a boat, visit the beach, and truly experience California’s coast.  By growing existing programs and continuing to develop new ones, Crystal Cove Conservancy will continue to increase the number of opportunities for students to come to the park and collect data for ongoing projects.

Despite the sweltering October heat, high school students on board The Conservancy’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise have already been hard at work monitoring in the Crystal Cove State Marine Conservation Area.  Run in partnership with our friends at Davey’s Locker Sportfishing, the three-hour boat program anchors off the coast of Crystal Cove State Park, allowing students to collect data on the water quality, fish diversity, and plankton diversity.  This year, students taking part in the MPA Citizen Science Cruise will collectively spend over 70 days on the water.  The data collected on board will be added to an already large dataset that stretches multiple years.

Programs are also getting started at the Michael & Tricia Berns Environmental Study Loop, where fifth grade and seventh grade students will participate in conservation research projects, investigating the best way to restore places like Moro Canyon. Run in partnership with UC Irvine scientists and educators, these programs study the most effective restoration methods, comparing how different restoration practices affect our native Coastal Sage Scrub ecosystem.

Many of these programs are made possible by The Conservancy’s Sustain Our Students program, which helps fund bus and boat scholarships.  In return for their gift, donors at various levels receive hand written thank you cards and photos from grateful students.  Donors can also join the students on their program and see how their donation has been used to create cherished memories.

Interested donors can find more information on our website.


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